Dance - Expression and Interpretation

When you dance, you should not simply be going through a series of moves; you should be giving a performance. Dance is another means of expression. It should convey a story or an emotion; it should make the audience feel something, communicate with them on another level. A lot of young dancers forget about this expression/communication and forget that their whole bodies including their faces must feel and convey their story or emotion in order to successfully perform. The story or emotion should be the starting point of your dance; the appropriate moves and style should be selected and the music should reflect and compliment this motivation. You need to interpret the music and dance expressively. A dancer who has a disengaged face, or who looks at the floor or who looks unfocused or under energised will not be successful. A dancer needs energy and passion and conviction, confidence, commitment and ultimately the ability to play a part or inhabit a role and space for the purpose of their dance.


To be successful

Advice or tips to help you


· Take a class

· Learn from those around you

· Watch others and decide what you do and don't like about their performance; try and use this in your dancing to suit you.

· Concentrate on what you are good at

· Stick to what you are good at, however and adapt moves to suit you so you can perform them in the best possible way. Trying to do something someone else can do and you can't isn't a good use of your time.


· Practise in different situations and surroundings

· Rehearse in different spaces

· If you always rehearse in a corner of the classroom and then suddenly have to dance on a large stage, your routine will not cover that space. Try to rehearse in different parts of the room and in different sized spaces.

· Remain confident, whatever the external situation is

· On the day of your performance, you need to be totally focused. Anything can happen but you must not let it throw you and you must carry on.

· Know your final space

· Don't leave it until the day of your performance to practise in the space. It will feel very different. You need to make sure that your final space is used well in your routine to compliment the story of the dance.


· Watch the pros

· Find yourself a role model

· Find someone who performs your style of dance and watch him or her, learn what he or she does well and try to do it yourself in a way that suits you.

· Use good ideas that you see

· If you see something you like, then use it! Copying an entire routine isn't very creative and won't mean much to you, but seeing moves you like and using them will help you perform.

· Try to get involved in a local dance production

· Performing with others will help you develop and learn and become more expressive.


· Schedule your practice time

· Know your routine inside out

· You cannot waste time, a routine will only be good if you practise and practise. You need to do it perfectly. Know the music and the steps inside out. It takes time, energy and focus.

· Rely on yourself, not on others

· You must take responsibility for learning your routine and improving. Another learner can't do this for you. There is nothing worse than a dancer who doesn't have any performance level because they are watching their group for what to do next.

· Use your mistakes as a learning experience

· Sometimes a mistake turns out to be better than the way it was originally planned. Making mistakes in rehearsals allows you to learn how to cover them up in case they happen during the actual performance.


· Count out loud

· Keep up with the beat

· Make sure your moves fit the music; counting out loud will really help this, it will also help a group move together.

· Make sure your moves happen with the music

· Similarly, don't rush ahead. Musicality in dance is very important and if you are truly communicating with the audience, your movement and music should harmonise.

· Try to understand the musicality of the music you have chosen and find moves that compliment it

· Know what the beat of the music is and how many bars you have to fill and where you want the music to start and end.


· Use mirrors and a mock audience

· Practise to make your performance look sharp

· Rehearse again and again so that movements are precise. Stand in front of a mirror if possible so you can see what the audience will see.

· Perform to an audience well in advance of the day of the performance

· Try to perform in front of family or friends or your teacher to gain valuable feedback on how to improve.


· Know what you are trying to communicate to the audience

· Go under the skin of your performance

· Find the story or emotion that the dance will be about.

· Make contact with the audience

· Remember you need to perform to the audience, so connect with them in your dancing.


· Use your face and eyes

· Look up, rather than at the floor

· Don't laugh and look embarrassed, be confident in your routine and look up, remember your posture.

· Animate your face to suit your performance

· If your piece is about happiness, you need to show it facially; if it is about love or war, you need to show this on your face. Do not be expressionless as it will ruin your dance.

· Cover up any mistakes

· If you are in the moment don't lose it because you have made a mistake. It is only from your face that the audience will know; as long as your face doesn't change, you will get away with it!


· Breathe

· Use your breathing to give phrasing and meaning to your movement

· Try to use your breath to give colour to your dance. Inhaling can play a part in opening and rising movements and exhaling can play a part in closing and lowering ones.

· Only hold your breath if it is a technical necessity!

· If you are being lifted or lifting yourself in your dance, taking a deep breath and then holding it can provide vital control and support to your lumbar spine (bottom of your back), helping you to support the lift.

· Try to build stamina and fitness

· Watching a dancer who is gasping for breath halfway through a routine doesn't bode well and will certainly make you heavy on your feet. You will also find it hard to express anything other than tiredness! Try to work on your fitness and building your stamina through a routine to help it appear effortless in performance.


· Put all you have learnt together!

· Use good posture, dance from your core and use your feet

· Remind yourself of the neutral position, your spine, your tummy muscles; think of them as you dance.

· Dance with fluidity and finish while incorporating the space

· Rehearse in the mirror a final time, paying attention to the shape of your arms, feet, hands and how clean your transitions from move to move are.

· Animate and dance with confidence

· Smile, look ready, and assure the audience you know what you are about to do. Dance with passion and energy from start to finish.